In Kvarken there’s a high focus on using locally produced food in restaurants and cafes across the region. Pairing this with inspiration from international cuisine while serving uniquely-crafted meals in buildings with a long history and soul, adds a deeper dimension to your food experience.
Rex Brasserie (first image) in Umeå has a menu that changes with the season. The only constant is that they focus on using local and seasonal produce to create their classical French-inspired cuisine. This means using a lot more vegetables in their cooking gives their dishes a Swedish twist, and the location itself adds both a stylish and historical dimension to the meal.
Rex Brasserie is located in the old Town Hall of Umeå, which was completed in 1890 after a huge fire destroyed the original building. The imposing structure is located with the original main entrance facing the Umeå River, which at the time, was the main point of access to the city. They also designed a beautiful garden stretching down the hillside from the square in front of the building all the way down to the boardwalk running alongside the river.
The architect, Fredrik Olaus Lindström, was inspired by the Renaissance era when he created the blueprints for the City Hall. This style is known for a certain type of asymmetry. This led to a wide variation in height and shape for many towers he designed for the building. After the opening of the city hall, an unexpected problem occurred that led to the creation of a second main entrance. The new railway was located on the backside of the city hall, and it was not considered appropriate to have the backside towards the King arriving by train.
That’s the reason the city hall building now has two main entrances.
Down the stairs from Rex Brasserie in the basement is where you will find the pub Rådhuskällaren, which offers over 120 varieties of beer and a street food-inspired menu.
A short walk from the old Town Hall in Umeå, you find another restaurant using local Swedish ingredients to create an Asian-inspired cuisine by blending local food traditions with global inspiration.
Gotthards krog, located in the same building as Stora Hotellet, tells the story of Umeå’s long shipbuilding and maritime traditions. When the hotel opened its doors in 1895, it functioned as the grand hotel of Umeå and the town’s sailor’s house. When Gotthards Krog opened in 2014, they wanted to pay tribute to the dynamic history of the place, and both the restaurant’s name, food, and drinks are inspired by this heritage.
Gotthard’s has their own vegetable garden at Älvåkern, and they also run a project called #svinngott, where fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded are saved and refined.
In 1954, the arch-shaped residential buildings and shops were completed, which form a uniform framework for the square Järnvägstorget and a gateway to the city center for arriving train passengers. These were the first “high” buildings in Umeå, that by that time was mainly a wooden town.Since 1955 there has been a restaurant in the corner with Rådhusallen. Köksbaren is well know for its well-cooked food and is specialicided in good meat dishes.
On the Finnish side of Kvarken you can also dine in historic buildings and their surroundings. The Hotel and Restaurant Alma is located in the former railway workers’ house. The main dining room of the restaurant is a six-meter high hall in Art Nouveau style. In the Alma restaurant, the waiters dress in traditional dignity and create a worthy atmosphere for you. In the kitchen, Alma’s chefs use as many products from local produce as possible without compromising on quality and availability.
Crazy Cat Restaurant, located in the illustrious Wendelinska building in the picturesque maritime town of Kristinestad, offers a wide ranging menu featuring everything from a large selection of pizzas and well-cooked traditional fare, to delicious à la carte dishes, all made with locally grown, high quality ingredients.
The building used to function as the Wendel shipping company’s sail seamster’s workshop, and it also holds the Maritime Museum of Kristinestad . Here you can learn about Kristinestad’s history as a commercial and maritime town with a well established shipbuilding tradition. And you can also explore the life of seamen through equipment and instruments from old ships.
The wooden houses in the town as well as several historical monuments and sights makes Kristinestad a fascinating place to explore among the towns dotting the Ostrobothnian coast.
Another nice place to dine in the historical town of Kristinestad is at Jungman restaurant, located by the seaside with a great view. Dine inside or on the terrace and take in the seaside atmosphere as you enjoy local produce and dishes cooked in accordance with Jungman’s guarantee of culinary craftsmanship.
The island of Tankar, Kokkola’s maritime gateway, has for centuries offered protection to the fishermen and seal hunters of the coastline as well as guided seafarers safely into Kokkola harbour. Today, Tankar Island is a well-visited island where you can learn about the region’s history, enjoy nature and get away from everyday life.
As a result of the land uplifting phenomenon around Kvarken, Tankar island started rising from the seabed during the 13th century. As more land was revealed, the islet was established as a base for fishermen and seal hunters. To distinguish it, the island received a seamark in the 16th century. A stone mound was erected as a guide for the seafarers, and to improve its visibility, barrels were attached to the ends of metal poles. As a result of the seamark, the island previously known as Klippan, meaning “The Rock”, was renamed as Tankokari, meaning “Pole Rock”, and this is the basis for the name it has today, Tankar.
Tankar used to be a piloting base to safely guide the larger ships approaching and departing from Kokkola, and there was a small community established for this purpose on the island. After the lighthouse, which is still in use, was opened in 1889, a separate staff was needed, and a second community of fishermen and lighthouse keepers arose.
In an old wooden house on Tankar Island, you can take in the historical island life in the cozy Café Tankar. Their specialty is salmon soup, but they also offer ice cream, candy, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
The café building was originally erected in the 19th century in the village of Långö on Öja, from where it was moved to Tankar. It now acts as a “base camp” for the island, from which the island´s services, such as sessions in the saunas, accommodation or gatherings can be ordered or booked. To enter Tankar Island, you can arrive by boat or take the M/S Jenny, a 30-metre-long vessel with a capacity for up to 170 passengers.